Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Creating Christmas

It's been a week of wonderfully wild weather... snow, rain, ice, snow again. As I write this installment, there is another winter storm watch and a fine persistent snow started about an hour ago. So all the errands were done early and we can just enjoy the comforts of home as Mother Nature transforms our landscape yet again.

But what better weather to spend some quality time in your sewing room? These two stylish kitties agree. It's best to lounge close to the heating vents on your favorite blanket than freezing your cute little tails off! They were stitched according to a free pattern by Chicago designer, Hilary Lang. Don't you love their funny faces?

Here are several pin cushions using the Prairie Gothic fabrics in a pattern by friend and fellow FreeSpirit designer, Heather Bailey. The ribbons are a nice finishing detail. I think they would make nice Christmas tree ornaments, too.

These soft reversible baskets are good for holding just about anything. They are simple squares of fabric over a square piece of Timtex with the corners cut out. The contrasting ties create the walls by mitering the corners and jazz things up, too.

This mantle skirt is a Victorian inspired project. It has been hand-quilted with nice big stitches, which adds to it's charm. The front panels feature the sunflower fabric alternating with the large Queen Anne's lace design. Sunflowers were popularized by William Morris and other Arts and Crafts artists. They became one of the most popular motifs of the Aesthetic Movement in Victorian England. Note the 3 dimensional bee applied to the farthest flower.

If you have been following this blog, you know how much I love to make pillowcases with my fabrics. Last year I made them for everyone in the family. It is fun to choose the design combinations according to the recipient's personality and interests. Here are six different Prairie Gothic coordinating combos. These pillows are filled with good dreams.  

Remember last weeks napkins? Well, here they are again modeling their decorative new Yo-Yo napkin rings with covered buttons and ribbon trim. Thanks to Santa's elves who helped make all the goodies this week!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Holiday Spirit

The transformation is complete! Winter weather has arrived. For too many years the winters in the Midwest have been uneventful, but last year we had a season reminiscent of childhood. This year holds the same promise... snow before Christmas. Greg went out with his brother and cut our tree on Sunday. Here it is in the front of the picture. You will see it transform in the next few weeks.

In this months posts I will concentrate on homemade gifts, which have always been a part of our family celebrations.  Handwork and craftsmanship are a way of life in this house. Above you see the Winter Tree pattern,  a contemporary interpretation of a classic image. Below you will see another delightful translation of my pattern!

Here it is done as a small wool rug hooking by Patricia Smith and was eventually made into a pillow. We met at the North Carolina Quilt Symposium in Wilmington this year. When I learned that she was a "hooker",  I hinted that the Seasons patterns would be perfect for both mediums. I think she did a nice job converting the design into wool... especially the snowy background. I would love to see them done as hand appliqued felt/wool "penny" rugs, too.

My first holiday project was to whip up a tablecloth for a new seasonal look. I have never been into the fussy old fashioned Christmas style. I prefer a clean, contemporary and fun look, so the red home decorating "Night Life" fabric was the natural choice. It was the perfect wideth and the big white pom pom trim is a fun finishing detail, like snowballs!

We have had this Christmas creche since the kids were little and is always one of the first decorations to come out of the closet. The heat from the candles make the windmill turn and the shepherds march after their little lambs. But those candles are always a dilemma, because they inevitably drip and every tablecloth gets damaged. So this year we have a new solution. 

This is a handsome wooden Ikea tray which costs about $15. I cut a paper circle as my pattern and to make sure of the size. Then I cut a fabric circle which was Mod Podged (matte finish) into place. It takes several coats, but it is easy and fast. Best of all, it cleans easily and wax doesn't hurt it. Plus it looks really great and could make a dramatic and useful gift.

Next, I made a set of checked napkins to match the tablecloth. I cut 21" squares and hemmed them with double folded edges. I think there are several other great napkin fabrics in the Prairie Gothic line. A set of  eight napkins would, also, make a wonderful holiday gift.

Here they are in a table setting with a twig and berry accent. Below is a simple ornament made by one of my favorite elves, Melissa. This would be a fun project to make with the nieces and nephews and less fattening than baking cookies!

So hopefully the holiday spirit is taking hold! If you still need goosing, I recommend an evening with Christmas in Connecticut and Holiday Inn. These movies will even soften-up Mr. Scrooge!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A Bounty Full of Thanksgiving Fabrics

The season of the harvest celebration has begun! Time to get out those comforting recipes and start preparing for that big Thanksgiving party. But wouldn't it be nice to have a new look on the table this year? One of the fastest and easiest projects are cloth napkins and it gives the feast a bit of class, too!

I think this combination would make a smashing place mat and napkin combination! The stripes are a nice accent for all of these Prairie Gothic projects.

Now, what about the guestroom? New pillowcases are the way to go. I made some with this Queen Anne's Lace pattern which make a sophisticated statement in the turquoise bedroom.

This Teasel and Lace design is available in quilt fabric and in home decorating weight, as well.
How about recovering that tired but comfortable little couch and adding a few accent pillows in the Dusky Bird's Eye pattern?

After a long day of family fun, those nephews and nieces could be as snug-as-a-bug-in-a-rug wrapped in a whole cloth coverlet of cozy critters.

Here's another great combination. I imagine a Sweet Potato Vine tablecloth with checkered napkins. 

So far, most of these are products of my imagination! But tonight is my last lecture of the year and so I will be able to make them materialize as soon as I get home.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Market Report

Well, finally the day has come! My boxes were here to greet me and they appear to be in OK shape! But my! The space looks so small. Where to begin?

By the end of the day the booth has come together! The colors are extremely optimistic and feminine, especially with the standard white curtains. But it will be hard to miss. Notice that all the patterns have been made up in Prairie Gothic fabrics. All things considered, it's not a bad result for a shoestring budget, limited time and some major anxiety!

Being on a corner was a wonderful vantage point! People could see me and I had a quality people watching perch. But it was strange standing in one place everyday and not being able to visit with my friends in other booths, as in previous years. Luckily, Greg came with me! He is naturally "GREGarious", so he was doing much of the socializing. This was his first visit to Market and I was happy to share this impressive event with him.

This potato chip chair was one of the highlights of the booth. It is covered with the home- dec Midnight Teasel and Lace fabric. We also did directors chairs in the Bug fabric. I think these would be wonderful for dorm rooms, first apartments and screened porches, being light weight and portable. Plus the fabric gives them an "attitude"!
Each of the tower shelves had a little vignette of Sassaman "ideas". Here is a collection made from the Dusky colorway of fabrics. The bamboo plates and little metal vase are from Ikea and decoupaged into very handsome and usable objects. Time to buy some MogPodge everyone!

All the FreeSpirit/Westminster/Rowan designers were close to the Westminster headquarters,
so we did have a chance to mingle with our fellow creators. I am really proud to be included in this talented stable of artists. Brandon Mabley has a beautiful new line for Rowen and he shared a booth with Kaffe Fassett across the way. Here he is modeling his new radiating Sassaman attire!

Here are some happy "women of the cloth" at the end of a long day: Anna Maria Horner,
me, Amy Butler and Tina Givens. I am blessed to have such friends and mentors.

And finally, my new friend and fellow FreeSpirit designer Jay McCarroll of Project Runway fame! His booth was in the opposite corner and constantly filled with fans and autograph seekers, including me. I was astounded when he came over to introduce himself! He spiced
up the week for all of us!!!!!

I am on the road again until Thanksgiving! But this is the last travel of the year and I am looking forward to some serious nesting and house cleaning when I get home again. 

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Houston Market Here We Come!

Please stop by and say "hello"!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Countdown to Houston!

Well, I am in a state of hyper activity and preparing for Houston Market. The black of night is spent making "to do" lists in my head. But it dawned on me, as I looked over my messy studio, how lucky I am to have a career fondling fabric and meeting such wonderful and talented people along the way. 

One of these people is Nancy Ota, who I met during my visit to the Beach Cities Quilter's Guild in California. She is the creator of Screen Play patterns for those good looking and very practical tote bags. I was so impressed that I asked if she could make some bags to display in the booth. And here they are!

She used her Tote It and Zip It patterns with some of the new Prairie Gothic fabrics and they turned out beautifully!

Love the pink! This one has a red/pink/white checkered lining, which gives it a very cheerful attitude. The fabric would make wonderful napkins or pillowcases, too.
This is the Dusky colorway of the Sweet Potato Vine design. Deep and elegant!
Here Nancy made an applique to extend the design behind the pocket and the workmanship is perfect, too. Stop by the booth 1520 and you can see these handsome bags in person.

Thank you Nancy, for all your energy and enthusiasm!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Forest Forms

There have been dramatic changes in the landscape this week. The soybeans have suddenly turned the countryside golden and the green corn is beginning to brown. Plus it has been one of the wettest weekends ever recorded here. Autumn atmosphere has arrived. In the depths of the forest behind the house the dripping canopy of trees look dark and mysterious. The soaking black trunks and stumps are sprouting some of the most amazing forms. Greg spends lots of time pouring over the mushroom guides, as he is anxious to harvest some for our dinner. But so far, it is  hard to determine the good from the bad! But design wise they all look fine.

These Baneberries look like an "eyeball" plant. Love it! So I guess you can see where my inspiration comes from. There is so much LIFE, even here in the "ordinary" Midwest! And that is exactly what the Prairie Gothic fabric designs are all about.

 The insect world is a big part of the action, too, so they also have a starring role this season. This is a design I have been thinking about for years. It is one of the three designs (in all three colorways) being printed in home dec fabric. I'd like to recover the porch furniture with "bugs".

In keeping with this mysterious theme, here is the Lace pattern, also in the Midnight color way.
This is another design playing off Queen Ann's Lace, but from a different perspective this time.
I think this would make awesome napkins or a table cloth. Hopefully,  you are dreaming up some projects of your own, too!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Summer's End

Where has it gone? It has been a very busy season for me. Travel and teaching has consumed most of my time. But the last two weeks have been at home and it has been wonderful. Watering the vegetable garden in the late afternoon has been a sublime chore. Standing among the towering vines that are radiating warmth and a "green" fragrance and the stillness of the day with only the bees humming is a sensory treat.

But this weekend autumn was in the air! This is the time when my body rejoices and begins to wake up. Today it is raining and I may have to turn on the studio heat. That's the wonderful thing about living in the country... everyday is entertaining!

Also during the last two weeks, I have begun working with the new fabrics. This line is called Prairie Gothic and inspired by the quietly sensational wildflowers and ever present insects in my Midwestern summer landscape. This season I was determined to included a more subdued pallet for one of the colorways. I agonized over the right combinations, but I am really pleased with the outcome.

Also, I have signed up to have my first booth at Houston Market and I am in a bit of a panic! Hmmm... an understatement. I wake up at 3:30 every night thinking of all the things I want show there! I am calling it Jane's "Idea Booth" and I hope you will stop.

This design is called Teasel and Lace and shown in the Dusky colorway. It is available in quilt weight cotton, but also in upholstery goods.  It combines a traditionally inspired repeat with some contemporary wit and decadence. I think it would be fabulous in a rehabbed bungalow or Victorian. Can't you imagine it on a fainting couch?

Here is the Dusky Coneflower design. I have already used it in pillowcases and they look great!
More sneak previews next week! I will also keep you posted on the Idea Booth and would love any ideas and suggestions.